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The end of schools?

Learning is broken. How can we fix it?

Learning is broken

The traditional school model has been in place for hundreds of years. Sadly, Covid-19 has wreaked havoc and educational technologies are rapidly advancing. The landscape of learning is altering, is it time to re-evaluate our schools as we know them? With students needing strong 21st century skill sets to ready themselves for a technology-centric world, is it possible that a new wave of digital resources could completely change how educators approach teaching and more importantly - how students learn? In this article, we'll discuss these potential changes and explore how educational technologies may mean the end of schools as we know them.

As we start 2023, it’s clear that decades of underfunding, exacerbated by the pandemic, has caused damage and disruption within many schools. Most worryingly, for too many young people, their life chances have been seriously impacted by shutdowns and interruptions.

Post-pandemic the world is shifting between our feet. Changes are happening by stealth in education, which need to be addressed. Two startling examples include declining school attendance and worse still, children who are missing or excluded from school.

When did it become the norm to take children out of school for holidays? Many in the education system have spoken out about trends demonstrating that parents have increasing resistance to encouraging attendance. The Guardian recently reported a ‘cultural shift’ causing an attendance crisis in schools in England. The recent phenomenon of ‘ghost children’ exacerbates this issue. Since schools returned, 100,000 kids have almost entirely disappeared from education.

If we don’t pay attention to this, there is a real risk of a developing generation of children exposed to significant safeguarding harms including harrowing situations at home, online harms and joining county line gangs.

Add to this the rapidly declining mental health of children, the strain experienced by the NHS, the cost of living crisis and teachers leaving the profession in droves.

Education to date has been linear and life is not like that. Life is organic. Almost 20 years ago, Ken Robinson likened education to fast food in his TED Talk Bring on the learning revolution: ‘We have sold ourselves into the fast food model for education’, where everything has been standardised and homogenised and is ‘depleting our spirit and energies’. He couldn’t be more right.

Young people in the UK risk leaving school without the skills they need for the future, including soft skills such as creative thinking, digital skills, problem solving and collaboration. Less than half of educators in UK schools feel that classrooms are set up to facilitate modern learning. Teachers are also more likely to instruct on how to use technology, rather than create it. While 74% of teachers agree technology aids students’ learning, just 15% feel confident using it. All of this has a ripple effect further down the road, when creativity and innovation are needed to solve problems we are not yet aware of.

It’s time to embrace technologically-empowered learning and address this issue for the already-overstretched teachers. Embracing AI and AMVR (Augmented, Mixed, Virtual Reality) is the first step towards modern learning for the modern world.

Immersive learning - the new normal in waiting

To thrive in a digital world that moves beyond traditional geographic borders, children in the UK need contemporary learning experiences and mental health and well-being support at the point of need. With millions of children set to enter schools in the next decade, the time for innovation is now. Anne Widdop, an ex-Global Director at IBM and founder of The VR Hive, has harnessed the science of learning and gaming with the latest innovations in Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence to create The Hive - an immersive learning platform.

The Hive delivers holistic learning and support, such as VR games for STEM learning and applications for improving focus.

Imagine a child conducting experiments or accessing mental-health advice on demand, supported by a trusted AI coach-companion at a time and device of their choice. Learning what they want on a device of their choice at the point of need.

Immersive learning and early therapeutic support has the potential to revolutionise how we think about learning and education. By incorporating virtual and augmented reality, simulations, game-based experiences, and other interactive elements, immersive learning allows learners to access a more engaging and realistic environment that translates into greater knowledge retention and increased learner confidence compared to traditional teaching methods.

Not only does this type of learning offer learners a rich and dynamic experience, but it also presents them with instant feedback and can be accessed on demand anytime, anywhere. In a time where attention spans are shrinking thanks to TikTok and clever uses of AI (i.e. use of Chat GPT for essay writing) force schools and universities to rethink their exam strategies, it is crucial for educators to enable students to engage with technology in healthy, productive ways.

This is why The Hive platform hosts experiences like STEM Trek - a VR game that tackles STEM learning and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. STEM Trek is a narrative VR simulation which takes the player on an expedition to save an Antarctic island and bring a fellow researcher to safety. Using problem-solving and the scientific process, the player must solve puzzles and figure out how to help Dr Daniels cope with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), made worse by the island’s environmental crisis. STEM Trek is inspired by the award-winning book The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller.

STEM Trek is launching as part of The Hive platform on 18 April, 2023.

As the British Science Week celebrated the theme of “Connections!” this year, STEM Trek highlights the need for a combined effort between science and mental health to help young people cope with demanding and high-pressure situations by teaching them skills in a gamified way, all while preparing them for the future of work. By using the technology available to us, from AI to XR and gaming, we can help children to re-engage with education and manage their mental health in volatile times.

The Hive platform is only the beginning. We are determined to modernise learning for our future generations. The time for innovation is now.

Curious about The Hive? Get in touch:

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